Although you can’t choose your family, you CAN choose your friends. In many ways your friends are your CHOSEN family, so with friendships it should be about quality and not quantity. While positive quality friendships can contribute to your emotional well-being, negative, draining relationships can hurt your emotional health. Your time is precious. Share it with those who make you happy and contribute positively to your life and lift your spirits.
With one son in college and another who’s driving now and no longer needs Mom to drop him off at a party or take him to the game, I have more time for my friends and even the opportunity to make some new ones. Although the idea of new friendships can be exciting, the unfortunate reality is, not everyone is genuine and honest. So whether you’re reconnecting with old friends or making new ones, it’s important to be selective.
Here are the signs of having (and being) a good friend:
*Makes time to be truly PRESENT:
A great friend is truly PRESENT. They listen with empathy when you are communicating and aren’t distracted and checking their phone while you’re talking. They ask follow-up questions which show that they were really listening. If they think your concerns are much ado about nothing, then they should express that. But they should be engaged, and not waiting to change the topic of conversation to focus on them.
*Accepts you UNCONDITIONALly:
Good friends have love for who you really are. A great friend doesn’t only share what’s great in his or her life, but is also willing to share their struggles. You never have to put on a brave face for them because they accept you unconditionally. If things aren’t going well, your relationship doesn’t change. If your professional, financial or relationship status changes – to be more ideal or troubled – your friendship should not.
*Support each other’s SUCCESS:
A great friend should be one of your best cheerleaders. A true friend gets excited – not jealous – when something good happens. If your friend gets a job promotion, take her out to celebrate. Take genuine pleasure in your friend’s successes, even if you aren’t at the place where you want to be in life. And they should do the same for you.
*Is positive and ENTHUSIASTIC:
No one wants an invitation to a pity party. Positive people are attractive because their enthusiasm is contagious, and you always have more fun when they’re around. They encourage you to be the best you can be. Even if they’re not hating on you, you don’t want someone who basks in the negative.
*They’re honest, but SUPPORTIVE:
Friends are one of the very best sources of information about yourself because they know you so well. They find ways to be honest and supportive during difficult times without being too negative or harsh. Only a good friend can tell you when it’s time for a new hairdo or to do away with that favorite outfit or that maybe you deserved to be fired.
*Occasionally step OUT OF BOUNDS:
Great friends try to communicate as clearly as they can, and if they don’t say it right the first time, they try again. Sometimes they are totally off base or politically incorrect. Any sentence that begins with, “Guurrrlllll…” has a fifty-fifty chance of offending by the time she gets to the end. Bring them back and be willing to forgive. If you agree to disagree, establish a comfort zone where they can be wrong and it can still be alright.
*Can Be TRUSTED:
Great friends trust each other. A good friend will never lie to and never reveal things shared in confidence. If you’re sharing something private, be clear that what’s spoken should go no further. Trust creates a powerful bond and can be the basis for life-long friendships.